The Macron Melodrama in two keys: academic Sudhir Hazareesingh & The Financial Times’ hireling Victor Mallet ‘report’? Committed Observer comments.

What to think of writes, reporters, academics who fail to point out that Macron, was not the ‘clear winner’ but a ‘marginal winner’ in 2017. With an abstention and spoiled ballots rate in the mid 30’s percentile range. Sudhir Hazareesingh fails to mention that vexing fact to his readers. This is the TLS, under the leadership of hardened reactionaries.

Title : Une part de nous Sub-title Emmanuel Macron’s admiration for Napoleon

Sub-title Emmanuel Macron’s admiration for Napoleon

By Sudhir Hazareesingh

 Bonapartism, in short, remains profoundly embedded in modern French political culture, and its long shadow both explains why a technocrat like Macron was able to capture the presidency in 2017, against all apparent odds, and how in turn the French system has reinforced the president’s centralizing and authoritarian instincts.

Note that Hazareesingh’s essay ends on the note of ‘jinx’:

When Macron was elected, he vowed to tackle the underlying causes of the Rassemblement National’s political successes: the polarized rhetoric corroding the national conversation, the blight of France’s small towns and rural communities, and the issues surrounding the integration of France’s ethnic minorities (racism, chronic dilapidation of the banlieues, educational underachievement and social discrimination). He has made little headway on any of these fronts. But the president’s greatest failure is an intellectual one. In the name of republican “equality”, the French still refuse to allow their statisticians officially to gather ethnic data, an aberration which has doubly unfortunate consequences: the real successes of French integration cannot be properly quantified, and the debate continues to be poisoned by demagogues. And despite Macron’s grand pledge in his speech at the Institut, echoing Napoleon, to accept and deal with everything about France’s history – “Nous assumons tout” – the public conversation about the French imperial past remains stilted. A recent study by the Fondation pour la Mémoire de l’Esclavage, the leading association campaigning for a more open discussion of France’s colonial past, has found major shortcomings in the national school curricula, notably around the ending of slavery, which continues to privilege the role of enlightened European abolitionists while ignoring the decisive acts of resistance by local men and women in French colonies. The Haitian revolution is an especially important gap here, as it also brings up the moral debts incurred by France. Haiti’s post- independence leaders were forced to compensate French slave-owners for their losses in the nineteenth century; this harsh debt crippled their economy and was only fully paid off in the mid- twentieth century. The economist Thomas Piketty estimates that the sum of 30 billion euros would be an appropriate settlement by France. Like all his predecessors, Macron has refused to engage in meaningful discussions about slavery reparations. Dismissing uncomfortable truths from the past can be unwise, especially in France, and as he prepares to face his destiny the President might reflect on this intriguing fact: all the French leaders who chose publicly to commemorate Napoleon, from Louis Philippe and Louis Napoleon in the nineteenth century to Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou more recently, came to a sticky end. The next victim of this historical jinx may prove to be Emmanuel Macron.

Given the above caveats , Sudhir Hazareesingh’s essay is informative about the current political situation in France, although it lacks rhetorical bite! Note, the fact that Macron and his Neo-Liberal Revolution is stalled, and that the “gilets jaunes” are still active in French politics, although unreported in the hostile Neo-Liberal and Conservative press! Twitter is the place to see and read about the teetering Macronism.

The Financial Times enters with the full Macron Melodrama, with this pretentiously titled essay by Victor Mallet: under the heading of ‘Life and Arts’, this is Politics! The title ‘The Meaning of Macron’ places this apologetic, pretending to be something else, outside politics?

Headline: The meaning of Macron

Sub-headline: The French president is accused of being out-of-touch — but so too were many of his predecessors. Can he once again steer through the centre and win a second term?

Here are three of the later paragraphs in the Mallet essay that expresses a kind of political nostalgia that this ‘reporter’ uses to give a certain historical resonance, perspective, to both Macron and usable French political history:

Macron was only four years old when I arrived in France in 1982 to work as a trainee reporter at Reuters, and in the decades that followed before he won the Elysée Palace, other presidents of left and right fought their own battles over terrorism, the economy and educational reform. I have lost count of the number of marches and mass protests I have witnessed on the streets of Paris, often punctuated by the burning of cars by demonstrators and baton charges of volleys of tear gas from the notoriously aggressive riot police.

At least since Charles de Gaulle with his famous hauteur, France has expected its presidents to incarnate a certain majesty, and those who do not, such as François Hollande — he vowed he would be a “normal” president — tend to fall out of favour.

Perhaps it is because I was a junior reporter at the time, and a British one at that, but I found François Mitterrand in the 1980s to be especially distant and pompously presidential: this was a man who relished the finer things in French life, including eating the (now endangered) tiny songbirds called ortolan buntings with his head hidden under a napkin to capture the delicate flavours and aromas. 

The presence of photos and three graphs – the technos that read this newspaper, and its editors, swoon over the use of data captured in telling graphic form. See The Rhetoric of Economics by Deirdre N. McClosky ,Second Edition: Chapter 3 ‘Figures of Economic Speech’ for the use of graphic representation as an integral part of economic rhetoric.

Mr. Mallet then addresses the pressing question of Macron’s insufferable arrogance, of the énarque, although not quite enunciated in such bald terms.

So is Macron peculiarly hateful? He has certainly failed to convince the French that he understands them. Among his supposed offences: he insensitively told a gardener who complained about a lack of work that he could find him a job in a restaurant just by crossing the road; he declared that while some of the poor were doing the right thing to overcome their problems, others were just “messing around”; and he poured scorn on greens and conspiracy theorists for wanting to delay the rollout of 5G for telecoms, likening them to “Amish” who wanted to “go back to using oil lamps”. 

Small wonder, perhaps, that an eccentric 28-year-old royalist felt the need to slap Macron in the face during a walkabout in a town in the south of France in June, or that Brigitte Granville, a village mayor in Burgundy and author of What Ails France?, said the official photograph of the Olympian president in her office “with his fixed and icy gaze gives me cold sweats every time I set eyes on it”. 

For brevity’s sake I will move to the end of Mr. Mallet’s not very convincing Macron apologetic, even if it is offered under the rubric of ‘The Meaning of Macron’!

After Trump, Brexit and Angela Merkel’s forthcoming retirement in Germany, that points to an intriguing conclusion for France and the west: Macron, who vowed to destroy the old politics (his 2016 book was called simply Revolution), has a chance to make history as the candidate of democratic continuity.

Macronism — that elusive middle way to modernise and liberalise France without compromising its economic sovereignty or the protective role of the state — is not dead. But it is in abeyance, blocked first by the shock of the gilets jaunes uprising and then by the need for 18 months of crisis management during the continuing pandemic. Both events triggered rare moments of downheartedness in Macron himself, but he soon bounced back. The question now is whether he will have the political skill — and the luck — to do it again and win a second term. 

Of the two explicators of the Macron and Macronism, at the very least, Mr. Mallet comes closest to presenting the Neo-Liberalism of Macron.

Macronism — that elusive middle way to modernise and liberalise France without compromising its economic sovereignty or the protective role of the state — is not dead.

A set of descriptors resembling an approximation of his political reason to be! The utter absence, in the Corporate and Neo-Liberal Press, of anything resembling frankness on Macron’s toxic Neo-Liberalism: in the watershed of the Economic Collapse of 2008, that can only appear as an expression of mendacity.

While my comment is not meant to be in anyway a definitive commentary, on either Hazareesingh’s nor Mallet’s essays, but to demonstrate that in the Corporate and Neo-Liberal Press, a frank discussion about Macrons utterly failed ‘Jupertarian Politics’ , that is Neo-Liberalism in an ersatz Napoleonic finery, is impossible. The reader will need to look to alternative sources of ‘news and commentary’ not controlled by corporations and their employees and academic hirelings!

Committed Observer

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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